[IMG:L]The Air I Breathe takes the concept of a Chinese proverb that identifies the four key emotions of life, and tells four different stories about them: Love, Pleasure, Happiness and Sorrow. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Sorrow as a pop singer named Trista trapped in a criminal contract. Her manager puts up her career as collateral to a gangster (Andy Garcia), but his henchman (Brendan Fraser) decides to protect her.
In reality, the former star of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer faces more forces than the basic four emotions in her life and career. She emoted on several subjects for Hollywood.com, including her surprise at how fluent Buffy Summers is in Spanish.
Awe: Gellar was impressed by the caliber of her Air I Breathe costars.
"This one was definitely unparalleled for me in terms of just the cast and the experience. I'm 10 times the actor for having worked with this cast. At the end of the night, you're just hanging at the bar and there's Brendan Fraser and Andy Garcia and Kevin Bacon. You're like, 'Is this my life?' I signed on before the other actors so I didn't even know that it was going to have a cast like this."
[IMG:R]Fulfillment: Whether doing indie films or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Gellar has never wanted for good parts.
"There's no question that these are the films that are sort of the heart and soul of why we do it. When I was on the show, the one thing I was very lucky about was I was always fulfilled. I wasn't playing high school five years later. She was in high school, then she went to college and then she essentially became a mother for the other slayers. She had tragedy in her life. She had happiness. She sang, she danced. She was all those things so as an actor I was always challenged. And because Buffy gave me all those gifts, I've had the time to sort of go, 'God, Mexico City, the story, [I want to do this.]' Because of those experiences, I think that's how you grow personally and professionally."
[IMG:L]Charity: Sometimes Gellar does indie movies out of the kindness of her heart.
"Everyone there does this because they love it. Nobody was there, I promise you, to earn a paycheck. I think we all wound up owing money by the time we were through. But you do it because you love it and because of the experience."
Wisdom: Years in the industry have given Gellar some perspective on fame.
"If you're someone like Trista and you've had no guidance and you're lonely and you don't know who you are, I can't imagine the magnification that that has to add to it. I understand that. I was 18 years old when my show became so big and I didn't know who I was. I was just trying to figure it out. As an actor, you constantly play these other characters. You're always pretending to be somebody else but at the same time you have to keep a handle on who you are. I think that's where a lot of actresses get lost sometimes because that's tough. I can only imagine it has to be the same as a pop star because you're not even playing a character."
[IMG:R]Karma: Gellar makes sure to give back to the world, working for charities like CARE.
"I give up a couple months each year to travel with them and do the field work. I took a month off this year, went to D.C. just to learn about the legislation. Most of the time as an actor, you're lucky you get to go on these charity trips and speak about it, but they're letting me learn the other side of it which is not an envious position of where does the money go. Who chooses where the financing goes and what project is worthwhile and how to speak up for the projects that you want? Really, who's to determine who's the most needy? I'm going to Africa actually, going to Johannesburg, down to Tanzania, to Zanzibar to see sort of the field work which is different. I've done most of my work in South America, worked with projects more based on microfinancing and female empowerment and the reeducation of the male caste system. In Africa you go and it's reading, writing and clean water. It's sort of the other side of the work that I haven't really seen, as well as the drug testing and that whole side of it."
[IMG:L]Knowledge: In Mexico and South America, Buffy is still famous. Gellar has used the international acclaim to learn new skills.
"That's actually how I practiced a lot of my Spanish in the movie, by watching the Buffy reruns. My makeup artist who came down with me, she was on the show with me for all the years. My Spanish--I can understand it very well but I have trouble communicating. Like I don't know how to structure the sentences. So we found that by watching stuff that we knew, it was an easier way to work on the language. So we'd turn to the Buffy reruns. They're on every day and we would watch and practice our Spanish. I sounded pretty good on the show in Spanish I have to say. It wasn't me, but..."